This Is The Bad Place by Navina Anand

Warning. This is a rant. 

I had decided to walk to the doctor’s office ten minutes away from home for a routine gynecological checkup. I thought it was an easy way to clock in my 10,000 steps for the day. Well, quickly the routine checkup became a little ‘non-routine’ and I found that I was not feeling great enough to walk back home. However, since the husband was traveling and I didn’t want to inconvenience a friend, I began the slow painful trudge back home. 

I could not stare at my phone and walk on the road as I was feeling a little wobbly. I had to walk slowly. The bright sun also did not make it conducive to look at the screen. I usually listen to a podcast or a YouTube talk or an audible on my walks, but I suddenly just felt too tired to do anything besides just walking. And as I walked , with just MY THOUGHTS, in those ‘in between’ moments, something occurred to me.

My daughter and I are watching the series called ‘The good place’. The premise of the series is that people are sorted into good and bad depending on the deeds performed by them on earth and are assigned to either the ‘Good place’ or ‘The bad place’ after they die. Warning… spoiler ahead … In the series, the lead character suddenly realizes that they have all been tricked into thinking they were in the ‘Good place’ but actually they were in the ‘Bad place’ and they did not even realize that they were being tortured.

As I laboured back home in the hot sun with cramps, I thought, bloody hell…. This must be the ‘Bad place’!  Think about it…Every inconvenience of the body is exclusively the woman’s prerogative . From when you are a teenager,  you have to deal with menstrual cramps, back pains, PMS, mood swings and the annoyance of dealing with bodily fluids every month. Then, moving on to the next phase of conceiving a child which entails monitoring the process of ovulation, forced coitus and dealing with familial expectations, gender biases etc. The next phase of pregnancy brings with it a delightful list of treats like nausea, aversion to food, swelling of body parts, exhaustion etc. Next, we  move on to the excruciating pain of childbirth, which rightfully should be accorded its own Richter scale, the intensity of which no man can ever fathom After that follow the joys of nursing – the latching issues, the midnight feedings that leave you feeling like a zombie, the swelling, leaking and the pain. After this we are entertained by the process of weaning the child which can be emotionally exhausting. After we have done this delightful circuit of having a child a couple of times( Fool me  once, shame on you- Fool me twice or thrice or whatever… i have no idea why we have a penchant for masochism), we get a brief reprieve before we are on to menopause which can literally span a decade with perimenopause and menopause symptoms that torment us, like fatigue, hot flashes, skin breakouts due to hormonal imbalance etc….We learn to breathe through everything. 

A survey of unpaid labour showed that while Indian men spend 80 percent of their working hours on paid work, women spend nearly 84 percent of their working hours on unpaid labour(source: http://www.thediplomat.com/Nov2,2020). So basically we do a shit load of work which is largely unpaid or unrecognized. This is a trend even in the western world- the stats might be a bit better- but except for the Nordic countries where there is maternity and paternity leave etc and largely an equity of gender roles, in most parts of the world, the women remain the primary caregiver for the young and elderly and will mostly give up their careers for taking care of either demographic . It is also interesting to note that globally, “while unpaid domestic work by women is valued at about 13 percent of the total economy, in India, women’s unpaid domestic work is estimated to be valued at almost 40 percent of its current GDP”.

So basically, we suffer physically pretty much at every stage of our life, we are subject to discrimination at the workplace and if we are lucky, we could escape being physically or mentally abused. Most women have been subject to harassment at least once in their lifetime from known or unknown people. We don’t get paid enough, recognized enough or appreciated enough. We are subject to all of society’s judgements and expectations much more than men. God forbid if you are born in any of the regressive places around the world, your life is pretty much over.

So in that moment of trudge it dawned on me, ladies, THIS IS THE BAD PLACE ! We have been conned into thinking it is the good place ! If we behave well in this life, we can get to the good place of BEING BORN A MAN in our next birth. 

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